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(NEW SOUTH WALES) #Coronavirus Report: NSW’s #COVID19 outbreak will “take off” if lockdown ends while new cases are still being found out in the community, an epidemiologist has warned #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – July.07: Since lockdown began, case numbers have bounced around but NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been pleased with the direction they’re headed.

#CoronavirusNewsDesk – NSW should leave #COVID19 lockdown in place until infectious cases in community are down to ‘zero’, expert says

a woman in a mask shopping on a sydney street
More than 5 million people in Greater Sydney and its surrounds are in a 14-day lockdown.(ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

“I can say that the lockdown certainly has been effective in not doubling and tripling the figures that we were worried about,” the Premier said yesterday.

“The next few days are critical. We want to get out of this lockdown as soon as possible in a timely way.”

The percentage of people testing positive while infectious in the community is also trending downwards, from 60 per cent on June 26 to as low as 13 per cent on July 4.

However, epidemiologist Tony Blakely from the University of Melbourne said despite these promising signs, NSW did not appear ready to lift stay-at-home restrictions.

“For a lockdown to be successful, we really need to see the number of notified cases that are out in the community down to zero,” Professor Blakely said.

“There’s still cases popping up in the community where they’ve been infectious … that means there’s community transmissions happening out there.”

Stay-at-home orders for more than 5 million people in Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Shellharbour, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains are due to end at midnight on July 9.

But Professor Blakely warned it was too soon.

“If we just open up restrictions at that point, they will just take off again … that’s just how the virus behaves,” he said.

“It’s not just a situation for NSW, the virus can move around and get across borders, so it’s also an issue for the rest of Australia too.”

Professor Blakely said the Delta strain currently gripping Sydney was at least twice as infectious as the strain that forced Melbourne residents indoors for months during its second wave.

On average, a person who caught the strain in Melbourne was estimated to transmit the virus to 2.5 people, assuming pre-pandemic conditions with no masks and social distancing.

The Delta-strain, which has wreaked havoc in India, has a reproductive rate of at least five.

Tony Blakely
Tony Blakely says lockdown shouldn’t end while community transmission is still happening.(Supplied)

While the presence of the COVID-19 vaccine was a factor in the state’s favour, Professor Blakely said the government didn’t appear to be entirely on top of emerging cases.

NSW Health continues to alert more venues, and even suburbs, of concern.

At the weekend, chief health officer Kerry Chant gave a “special call out” to residents in Auburn, in Sydney’ west, after concerns emerged over multiples venues visited by a COVID-19 case.

Students and teachers have been forced into isolation due to positive cases in schools, while three infections announced yesterday were linked to an illegal party held in the Meriton Suites in Waterloo.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wears a mask.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the next few days will be “absolutely critical”.(AAP: Mick Tsikas)

Professor Blakely said NSW’s contact tracing was “really, pretty damn good” and in lockdown conditions they were equipped and experienced enough to control the Delta virus.

He said every public health expert had their own “risk appetite” but Dr Chant was “no fool”.

“She knows how good her contact tracing is and all the rest of it,” he said.

“She will make her own judgement … but if I was in her shoes at the moment, I’d be getting a little bit worried that that numbers were not coming down.”

#AceHealthDesk report ………Published: July.08: 2021:

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